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Deputy probation periods examined

Law enforcement taking longer look at deputies’ probationary period

Posted: August 10, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: August 10, 2011 1:30 a.m.
 

An off-duty probationary sheriff’s deputy who shot up a car at a fast-food place in Stevenson Ranch is an anomaly, Sheriff’s Department officials said Tuesday, following the release of a departmental review.

“Couple of years ago, the probationary period (for sheriff’s deputies) wasn’t examined that closely,” said Mike Gennaco, chief attorney for the Office of Independent Review, which recently released its annual report on Sheriff’s Department discipline.

“But now the department is taking a harder look at probation, digging down deep to determine if someone is fit for law enforcement,” Gennaco said.

Deputies undergo a one-year probationary term before becoming full-time deputies.

“Rather than push them through, the department is paying greater attention to probation,” Gennaco said Tuesday, “because if you don’t, you end up with a problem for 20 years.”

The probationary deputy who fired four rounds into a car he suspected of bumping his vehicle was fired, officials said Tuesday.

He did not work for the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, said Steve Whitmore, senior media adviser for the Sheriff’s Department.

The incident is one of scores of disciplinary actions against sheriff’s personnel itemized in an annual report by the Office of Independent Review.

The OIR is a civilian-oversight group created by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors a decade ago to monitor the Sheriff’s Department.

It provides legal advice to ensure allegations of officer misconduct are investigated in ways that are, according to the review, “thorough, fair and effective.”

Its latest report chronicles the questionable actions of sheriff’s deputies disciplined for a wide variety of infractions including: arrests for drunken driving, off-duty shootings and sleeping on the job.

The OIR’s report dated earlier this year reviews the disciplinary actions against deputies this past year.

“An off-duty probationary deputy was in a fast-food restaurant when his car was struck by another patron in the parking lot,” investigators describe in their report.

“The driver of the other car stopped, and he and the deputy initially exchanged information, but then engaged in an argument as the other driver attempted to leave.

“The deputy fired several rounds at the car as it exited the parking lot. The other driver was not hit,” the report concluded.

Incidents involving training deputies were mentioned elsewhere in the OIR’s report, including:

n A trainee who accused his training officer of treating him improperly in violation of department policies against hazing.

n A trainee who was shot in the face by a motorist he had stopped. The deputy’s training officer and killed the armed motorist.

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